The video game industry has drastically changed since the last generation of consoles. Since the PlayStation 3’s release in 2006, there’s been a large shift in how the industry works, what sells and what consumers want.
These major shifts bring me to make a small prediction: the PlayStation 3 has sold an estimated 77 million units and I predict that the PlayStation 4 will only manage to sell a maximum of 60 million units (that’s around three-quarters rounded up.)
Let me be clear, the PlayStation 4 looks fantastic and will probably actually end up being fantastic. The PlayStation 4 looks like it may even win this generation; I’ve not got much to go by considering the next-Xbox has yet to be revealed and the Wii U has more-or-less been a flop, but the PS4 has hit almost every nail. Enhanced social features and interaction? Check! Better graphics and hardware capabilities? Check! Cloud gaming and a sexy controller? Check! A beautiful-looking console? Err… we’ll skip that one for now, I think.
Before the Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation Vita or Wii U launched, I made a quiet prediction that none of them would do particularly well and that, at best, they’d do okay and not hit the success of their respective predecessors. As it turns out in fact, all three have struggled quite a fair bit in getting gamer’s attention and money. Though each console have reasons behind this — lack of launch titles, third-party support, customer understanding etc. — none of them are inherently bad consoles. In my opinion, it’s just that unless someone pulls out something utterly out-of-this-world, any console released this generation is going to suffer the exact same fate.
Worldwide financial slumps during the last generation have probably made people more money-weary. As such – and because of services like Steam and Origin – gamers are increasingly resorting to sticking with their PC’s as their foremost gaming platform. After all, it’s difficult to justify spending $500 on a system that will become outdated within a few years when right in front of you is a system you can buy more-or-less the same games for cheaper on and is constantly upgradable… right?
The rise of technologies like smartphones and tablets have also not helped console’s cause, offering incredibly cheap, affordable, quick and accessible games for people on-the-go. Nintendo even at one point considered Apple to be their main rival as opposed to Sony and Microsoft due to the success of mobile gaming.
Then there’s the ethical issues like DRM and whether consoles should play pre-owned games. A GameStop survey suggests that 60% of gamers would not buy a console that didn’t play pre-owned titles but there’s a looming pressure on the industry to rid of pre-owned titles; of course, this will severely harm gaming outlets, but the severity of this doesn’t seem to be clicking with people. With heavily restricted games, who would want to buy a new console?
Last but not least, video games have become saturated with copycat, generic titles being pumped out year-on-year and companies seemingly not understanding what it is that their audience want any more. If it’s not lacking any idea as to what consumer want nowadays, it’s being confused by reactions to implementations that sell well but get complained about on social networks — for instance, DLCs and micro-transactions, which in turn give games more longevity than ever before, giving less of a reason to purchase new titles.
With all these issues, the industry is not in its safest position it’s ever been in, with rumors of an imminent console crash occurring popping up regularly. Though I don’t think we’re quite at that point yet, I do think that any console this generation is going to really struggle. We’re just not in the same place as we were back in the simple days of the PlayStation 2 and unless we see something extraordinarily innovative laid on the table for us, consoles like the PlayStation 4 and next-Xbox are bound to sell less units than their predecessors.